New Delhi, 4 October 2021 – Researchers across the country are breathing a sigh of relief, as the minimum eligibility criteria for assistant professor recruitment has been relaxed temporarily in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, candidates with postgraduate degrees, who have cleared the National Eligibility Test (NET), will continue to remain eligible for recruitment to the post.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) took this decision after receiving demands for relaxation of eligibility norms from candidates who failed to complete their PhD due to COVID-19. Talking about the move, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said, “The government has decided to put on hold the mandatory PhD requirement for assistant professors post for this year. We were receiving a lot of requests from candidates who wanted to apply for the post but were unable to fulfil their PhD requirement, asking to postpone the 2018 guidelines”.
The move to postpone the plan to make PhD a minimum qualification for recruitment of assistant professors will also help the colleges and universities to fill the vacant teaching posts faster. It is also seen as a welcome exemption, especially by ad hocs across the country. As per media sources, around 10,000 posts are lying vacant in central universities (including teaching and non-teaching staff) and the ministry has given instructions to fill up these vacancies soon.
In line with this announcement, Pradhan has directed all central universities to fill as many as 6,000 teaching vacancies by the end of October.
Note: It is important to note that this criterion has not been cancelled and has been put on hold only for this year so that teacher recruitments can move forward.
UGC’s Mandatory PhD Requirement – 2018 Guidelines
Earlier in 2018, the government stated that candidates must have a PhD along with NET qualification to get recruited for the post of assistant professor. Announced under UGC Regulations 2018, the government gave candidates a three-year window to complete their PhDs. It also notified all universities and colleges to start applying the criteria starting from the 2021-2022 academic session. The education minister at the time stated that this is done to “improve the quality of higher education and to attract and retain the best talent in the country”.
However, the pandemic led to the postponement in the research work of many candidates, resulting in a rise in demand to relax this criterion.